Pretoria - Speaking to the supersport.com website, Bulls captain Pierre Spies says he has set his sights on regaining his Springbok starting place now that he is fit and ready for action again.
There is no doubt that 2012 was not the year that Spies hoped it would be. Thrust with the responsibility of leading the Bulls into battle in the Super Rugby tournament, he managed to steer them into the playoffs, but few will argue his form suffered as a result.
A few lacklustre tests and a broken thumb later, and the rest of the year was spent recovering from an operation, and time to reflect and realise just what he was missing while being injured.
Anyone who knows the bold Bulls No 8 will know it’s not the type of thing that he will simply accept.
Now, just weeks ahead of the start of the 2013 season, Spies looks fitter, stronger and more determined than ever.
He will don the leadership mantle again, knowing that this year the Bulls have few excuses left to use. If 2012 was the question-mark over their abilities after losing so many Boks, 2013 will have to be the year where they move forward or stagnate. Where they accept the changes in the game, or where they will continue to slog forward and hope their execution trumps the playing style of their opposition.
“It’s true,” Spies says when faced with this scenario, “Everyone is a year older now and we have a lot more experience. We know each other better and we’re in a good space at the moment as a team.
“Last year was a difficult year for everyone, but we’ve had a good break and have returned more mature. We’re really looking forward to the battles that await us.”
Spies knows his personal form is under scrutiny, and knows he has to up his game if he wants to convince coach Heyneke Meyer he deserves a starting spot with the Boks once again.
“I learnt a lot last year as captain. There is a lot of support in the team to make my job easier and it will be that way this year as well,” Spies adds.
“But competition is always good. My injury came at the right time and it gave me a lot more perspective, as well as a decent rest. It allowed me to recharge, to find a renewed focus and vision for the year ahead.
“It reminded me how much I want to play for the Springboks again. You always have to prove yourself, whether it is to the public, the coach or to yourself. I know I owe myself a good season and I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Spies is excited at some of the talent at the Bulls, especially the likes of Arno Botha, Jan Serfontein and Handre Pollard, all who are expected to fulfill their potential in Pretoria.
“You have to have a good squad in this competition, and we have a lot of depth this year which we will use.”
One thing that Spies smiles about, and is rather coy about, is whether the Bulls will play a different game plan or keep with their current aerial assault.
“I think it will be a new year with new energy,” Spies smiles, “It will be a lot of the same, with a few changes here and there.”
If that isn’t clear enough, then what is?